So, Where Are All The Snowbirds?

March 15, 2024

The Coachella Valley has typically been one of our state’s most popular winter getaways for RVers looking for warm weather and sunshine.  With average temperatures ranging from 65 to 80 degrees in a region that includes the cities of Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quita, and Indio one could easily understand.  Then top it off with world-class golf courses, luxury spas, hot mineral pools, and unimaginable shopping and you have a snowbird paradise.

So, where are all the snowbirds?

During a recent trip to the Coachella Valley, I enjoyed coffee, cookies, and a conversation with a Canadian snowbird. 

Me: Since the pandemic we have seen a drastic drop in the number of snowbirds coming from Canada.  Any insights?

Snowbird: The Canadian dollar doesn’t go very far in California.  For those on a fixed income it is nearly impossible to stay here for months at a time.

Me: I can understand but are other states that much more affordable?

Snowbird: Arizona is a third of the cost.  Literally, we are paying $1200 a week for my mom to visit in this cabin (while we are in our RV.) This would be $300 in AZ.  

Me: So, what is your incentive to come here?

Snowbird: We are not retired.  My husband flies home to Canada each week to work.  I work from the RV.  It is the only way we can afford it. 

Me: Why not go to AZ?

Snowbird: The demographic here is younger and the area is a little livelier.  We have always stayed in another park and decided to try this one this year and really love it.  It’s new and fresh and active.  Our friends can’t figure out why we even come to the desert because they believe it to be old and stodgy, but we don’t feel that here.  

Me: So, there is a perception that coming to the desert is for “older” people, but the older folks can’t really afford California, right?

Snowbird: Exactly.  Until the economy changes in California, I don’t think you will see a return like pre-pandemic. 

In fact, as I walked the park to gain some perspective, the license plates were mainly from within the US.  Wisconsin took the lead with the most RVs on this particular day. 

A November 2023 article by Storage Café ranked the 100 Best Destinations for Snowbirds.  California didn’t make the list until number 28 with Indio. The remaining CA cities are shown in the graphic.

California only had 3 cities ranked in the top 50 compared to Florida with 28, Texas with 13, and Arizona with 4

Texas seems to be the new hot spot by combining access to the great outdoors with affordability that entices many to flock to their direction.

But for now, California seems to have branding and affordability issues.

Dyana Kelley
President | CEO

California Outdoor Hospitality Association
Camp California
(530) 885-1624 | Dyana@CalOHA.org
CalOHA.org | Camp-California.com